It was a night of celebration. A night to say, "Thank you." It was like a big family dinner. It was a large group of friends and colleagues gathering together to break bread and swap stories -- and help some in the family who are in need of help.
It was a night to honor those who travel back roads with little sleep. It was for those who may miss a couple meals or eat too much fast food during long, lonely days designed with a single purpose: find players for the game of baseball.
The 11th Annual Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation Awards Dinner, "In the Spirit of the Game," was held in Los Angeles on Saturday evening.
It was an event to raise money for the foundation, which helps scouts who are down on their luck or too sick to care for themselves and need a financial boost.
Co-founder Dennis Gilbert chairs the foundation. He has spent countless hours and personal resources to bring to life his dream of helping scouts in need.
Along with co-founders Roland Hemond, Harry Minor, Dave Yoakum and an able board of directors, the foundation does a remarkable job of casting sunshine, recognition and appreciation on scouts, who are among some of the game's unsung heroes.
As Chicago White Sox vice chairman Eddie Einhorn introduced the recipients of the Legends in Scouting Awards, he made a very important declaration to the crowd. "Scouting should be recognized in the Hall of Fame in the same manner as broadcasters and journalists," he said.
A new display honoring scouts was recently opened at the Hall, but to date, there has not been a structured Hall of Fame designation for scouts.
The six scouts honored at Saturday's dinner included:
• Elmer "Dutch" Gray, who has enjoyed a 62-year baseball scouting career. Mr. Gray has scouted players for the St. Louis Browns, Baltimore Orioles, Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates.
• Julian Mock, who in August 1959 signed a "recommending scout contract" with the Pittsburgh Pirates to cover Atlanta and other parts of Georgia. Mr. Mock retired as scouting director of the Cincinnati Reds in '98, but then he signed a two-year contract to do professional scouting for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He retired following that contract.
• Bob Oldis, who began scouting in professional baseball in 1949, covering what was then Class D baseball. He has played the game, coached, managed, and scouted since that time. He is still working, serving as a scout for the Miami Marlins.
• Ray Poitevint, who has worked as a baseball administrator and scout for the Orioles, Angels, Brewers, Red Sox and White Sox. He has worked in the United States and in Asia. Poitevint has signed such players as Dennis Martinez, Teddy Higuera, Eddie Murray and many more.
• Phil Pote, who has scouted in the Los Angeles area for decades and "is still going strong" at the age of 80. A former player, Pote was first signed as an "associate scout" and went on to become a trusted scout for the late owner Charlie Finley of the Oakland Athletics.
• John Young, who retired after a 43-year baseball career as a player, coach, scout and executive. Young had the distinction of having been the first African-American scouting director. He is the founder of baseball's Reviving Baseball In Inner Cities (RBI) program.
In addition to honoring scouts and other legends of the game, the night offered an opportunity for those in baseball to share the joy of giving back to the community.
As I listened to the presentations, I was struck by the number of deeply rooted programs and initiatives created under the guidance and leadership during the tenure of Commissioner Bud Selig.
Program after program, from RBI to Stand Up To Cancer (ably admistered by co-founder Sherry Lansing,) and countless other initiatives to help make our world a better place have been supported and nurtured by Major League Baseball.
The initiatives have touched countless lives, from children to the elderly. They are each examples of baseball giving back to the community.
Many players support charitable organizations and causes. We just don't hear about most of them. They are done quietly and without recognition.
The Commissioner, his staff and those in attendance Saturday have worked tirelessly to ease pain, find cures, provide opportunity and enrich people's lives.
Quietly and without much fanfare, people like Gilbert, Hemond, Minor and Yoakum realized the world of baseball had an unmet need. Countless others have pitched in to assist.
One thing is certain. For scouts in trouble, the family is there to help.
That's what the night was all about.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less